Growing up in rural South Carolina, fresh peaches were one of the many delights during the hot, muggy summers. We never had to actually purchase peaches. With thousands of acres of peach orchards in the county where my parents live, somebody would usually drop off a half-bushel at the back doorstep. Otherwise, Mr. Bobby, my boss at the meat market, would always have extra peaches he would give to his employees at the end of the day. Hands down the best peaches came from Mrs. Betty Ann and Mr. Don.
Tragically, after living in Washington, D.C., and now Phoenix, I’ve come to realize nobody is going to drop off any baskets of fruit on my doorstep. The California peaches I buy here in Phoenix taste pretty darn delicious, although not as good as the South Carolina ones! In fact, I went a little crazy at the supermarket when peaches were on sale a couple weeks ago, and I ended up with peaches out the wazoo. I figured some jam would be appropriate!
Jam day is always a Sunday for me. I like taking my time slicing and chopping the fruit. I like making sure the kitchen is entirely clean so I can prep all of my equipment and materials. I like not being rushed and having plenty of time to key up the perfect Spotify playlist. Much like bread-making, it can be very therapeutic.
I’ll admit, before I first made a batch of jam I was extremely intimidated. Believe it or not, this Southern girl was oblivious to the process until one of my very good friends here in Phoenix (not even a southerner!!) showed me the process. It’s always fun to have a friend who enjoys cooking as much as you do. Spoiler alert: making jam is MUCH easier than you think! The biggest thing is to FOLLOW the recipe, otherwise your jam won’t “set,” or become jelly-like.
All you need to make this delicious peach jam is ripe fruit, sugar, pectin, lemon juice, and a dollop of butter. If you want to roll the dice and spice things up, feel free to add fun stuff like jalapeños, habaneros, or any other hot peppers. My friend and I even made a few different batches, including strawberry jalapeño, peach mango habanero, and pineapple habanero. Delish!
The combinations are limitless. The spicy jams also make for a super quick and delicious appetizer. Simply pour the jam over a block of room-temperature cream cheese and serve with your favorite crackers. I guarantee people will devour it.
For my peach jam I decided to keep it simple today. Peaches, sugar, pectin, and a hint of lemon juice to balance out the sweetness. I use Ball, Kerr, or good old-fashioned Mason jars for canning.
Simple Peach Jam
4 cups finely chopped peaches (about 3 lbs.)
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 package Sure Jell fruit pectin
1 teaspoon of butter
5 ½ cups sugar
This recipe yields about 7 cups of jam.
- Sterilize your jars. I just run them in the dishwasher. You want to keep the jars hot while ladling in the jam. I do this by putting the drain stopper in a VERY clean/sanitized sink, adding the jars, and pouring 2 big pots of boiling water over the jars. This way the jars will stay piping hot without taking up space on the stovetop. You will also want to keep a small stockpot on medium to high heat to keep your lids and bands hot.
- Peel and finely chop your peaches. Be sure and properly measure all four cups of fruit. You could use a food processor, or chop by hand. Set aside into a large bowl.
- Measure sugar into a medium bowl and set aside.
- Toss your finely chopped fruit and lemon juice into a large stockpot and add the box of pectin. Bring to a boil.
- Make sure your fruit and pectin mixture is at a rolling boil (maintains a rolling boil as you stir). Add a teaspoon of butter to minimize foaming.
- Pour the measured sugar into the fruit mixture and let it boil for ONE minute then turn off heat.
- Skim off any foam from the jam (this just makes for “clearer” less cloudy jam).
- Grab a hot jar (using tongs or jar-grabber) and ladle your jam into the jar leaving about 1/4 inch of headspace at the top.
- Wipe off the rim and side of jar with a damp cloth/dishtowel and then screw on the lid and band. Use a gripper to tightly screw on the lid.
- Once you fill your jars, turn them upside down (lid-side up) and place on your countertop so they can set. You should hear a POP sound once the jars have set for a few minutes. This is the sound of the jars sealing.** Give your jam about 24 hours to set firmly. Enjoy!